Study Shows Obamacare Is Working, but the Law Remains Divisive

© Mike Segar/Reuters A man looks over the Affordable Care Act signup page. Mike Segar/Reuters
© Mike Segar/Reuters A man looks over the Affordable Care Act signup page. Mike Segar/Reuters

There was some more news this week about how many people have gained coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and it would appear to be good news for the health care reform law’s supporters. A new study was released by the RAND Corporation showed that almost 17 million people have gained health insurance since the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act began taking effect. The study examined the time period between September 2013 and February 2015 and found that 22.8 million Americans gained coverage.  

At the same time, 5.9 million Americans lost it. The result is an overall gain in coverage for 16.9 million people. The study also points out that most people who had lost their coverage due to changes in rules for the individual market eventually found new coverage, although 600,000 people did not. Overall, the study concludes that the health care law “has greatly expanded health insurance coverage in the United States with little change in the source of coverage for those who were insured before the major provisions of the law took effect.”

The numbers appear to be good news, but what do they really mean? The study comes out at an interesting time for the health care law. Although Congressional Republicans have been so far unsuccessful in their repeated attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, if the Supreme Court rules against it in the King v. Burwell case, they may soon have a very real chance to make revisions to the law. The court’s decision is in expected in June, and will decide whether or not federal subsidies to purchase health insurance are available through the federal health care exchange.

Will the RAND study and others like it that show the Affordable Care Act is a relative success put political pressure on the party to actually try to save a law they so clearly abhor? Will it make it more difficult for them to make substantive changes to the law? Or, absent a court decision against the subsidies, will the positive news about the Affordable Care Act eventually prompt them to stop trying to repeal it?

Most likely not. The Obama administration has been touting Affordable Care Act success stories every chance it gets and still has not managed to move the needle much on public perception of the law. In many corners of the country, it remains unpopular. They key to why likely lies in the study’s conclusion that, for most of those who had coverage before the law’s major provisions took effect, nothing really changed. And while it may be true that the law has made a tremendous difference for those who were able to gain coverage, that number is actually relatively small compared to those who felt no difference at all.

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Source: U.S. News & World Report | Cary Gibson

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